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The Milton Measure

Coachella Perfomances Live Up to Pop Culture Expectations

by on Friday, April 29th, 2016

The celebrities, guest appearances, and general weirdness in the middle of the Colorado Desert all contribute to the iconic experience of the Coachella Music Festival. On April 15-17 and 22-24, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California opened its gates to about 99,000 people, according to LA Weekly Magazine. In the past, the infamous festival has been graced by many celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Nikki Reed, Joshua Jackson, and Diane Kruger. All general admission tickets for the first weekend sold out in pre-sale back in June.

The lineup was just shy of god-like: Ellie Goulding, Sia, James Bay, and Zedd were just a few of the pop names represented, Calvin Harris, Halsey, and Disclosure featured electropop, G-Eazy, Ice Cube, A$AP Rocky and DJ Mustard brought hip-hop to the mix, The 1975, Cold War Kids, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra featured some alternative rock, and Guns N’ Roses provided the classic rock.

Some of Coachella’s most interesting performers weren’t even on the schedule: Rihanna did a surprise performance with Calvin Harris, Usher showed up with Major Lazer, Kendrick Lamar accompanied Ice Cube, Walk the Moon got onstage with The Chainsmokers, Brendon Urie backed up Halsey, and, most shockingly, Ke$ha performed with Zedd. Ke$ha’s appearance was surprising, mostly due to her long hiatus while engaged in a legal battle with big name record producer Dr. Luke. Even Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who introduced rap duo Run the Jewels via a video message, appeared at Coachella.

Although the Coachella experience seems to be priceless, attending the festival costs more than a few bucks. The official website lists sixteen different passes, packages, and add-ons for each of the two weekends. The offers range from the standard $375 pass for the day to an extravagant $7,000 Safari Tent for two, with full VIP access and other accommodations. According to the Los Angeles Times, the annual festival boosts the local economy significantly: a total of $704 million of general economic activity was generated by consumers and businesses over the six days this year, but no amount of money can get you into the epic after-party.

MTV’s The Hills producer, Brent Bolthouse, held the annual, highly-exclusive Neon Carnival after-party at a private airport on April 16th. Bolthouse said of the star-studded party: “we don’t sell tables and we don’t sell tickets,” demonstrating the exclusivity of such a gathering. Perhaps Coachella as a whole, though seemingly a place for love and maybe a few other substances, cultural disrespect hides beneath the surface.

The fashion statements are as newsworthy as the music. Each year, picturesque bohemian dresses and crop tops with belts and boots appear. Unfortunately, Native American headdresses and costume makeup bindis are a common sight, too: this not-so-lighthearted wardrobe choice is often decried as cultural appropriation. Nadra Kareem Nittle, a Race Relations Expert from About News, defines cultural appropriation as “members of a dominant culture [borrowing] from the cultures of minority groups….Those doing the ‘borrowing,’ or exploiting, lack a contextual understanding of what makes the cultural symbols…significant.”

Even well-known celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, and Alessandra Ambrosio wear war paint and warbonnets to the festival. A petition on, created by Native American MorningStar Angeline, demands Coachella to “include a dress code forbidding culturally appropriative attire” and later mentions considering banning festival-goers from bringing tipis. The petition has more than 1,500 online supporters.

Overall, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a once in a lifetime experience: a sea of good. But it does not lack fault, and it’s something you should try to see at least once. Coachella 2017 tickets are forecasted to go on sale early this summer, so if you want to go, plan ahead now.

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Posted by on Apr 29 2016. Filed under Arts & Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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